Cardiff, WalesSophia Gardens, Cathedral Road, Cardiff, Wales. CF11 9XR. (Phone: 029-2040-9380)
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Glamorgan first played at Sophia Gardens against the Indian touring team in May 1967, but it was not until nearly three decades later that it officially became the county's home.
The signing of a 125-year lease in November 1995 ended the clubs 74-year search for a ground, a nomadic period during which the clubs base had at times been limited to a small office in Cardiff high street.
The area where the cricket pitch now stands has a colourful history, having once played host to a 'Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show' and 'Barnum and Bailey's traveling circus and menagerie'. One wonders whether Glamorgan's fans would secretly welcome a return to these long gone days, having suffered their team's mediocrity in recent years.
Glamorgan have played on and off at the ground since 1967, after Cardiff Athletic Club, the leaseholders at the time, had a pitch laid and spent £25,000 on a new pavilion. Sophia Gardens has staged some crucial matches in Glamorgan's history, notably in 1969 when they won the County Championship against Worcestershire in front of 16,000 people, and in 1978 when they claimed the John Player League for a crowd of 11,500 ecstatic fans.
Since Glamorgan officially took over the ground in 1995 several improvements have taken place, all part of a nine-million pound strategic plan. The National Cricket Centre was finished in 1999, the same year that the ground played host to Australia's contest with New Zealand in the group stages of the World Cup.
The ground has since become a regular international one day venue, playing host to the first one day match between England and Wales in 2002, which Wales won by eight wickets, but perhaps its most famous game came in 2005 when the touring Australians were humbled by the Bangladeshis, who recorded a five-wicket victory that shocked the cricket world.
At present the ground capacity is set at 12,000, but in March 2006 Glamorgan announced plans for further developments, including a new pavilion, media centre, grandstand and more covered seating. Behind these improvements, scheduled to be finished by 2008, has been Glamorgan's campaign for the ground to be upgraded to category 'A' status, enabling Sophia Gardens to stage Tests .
This campaign, backed by the Welsh Assembly, was rubber stamped by the ECB when they surprisingly awarded the ground the first Ashes Test in 2009. Exciting times lie ahead.
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